By Kelly Edmiston. She is the Youth and Family Minister at the First Colony Church of Christ in Sugar Land, Tx. She enjoys “suburban life” with her husband Ben and two sons, Mason and Hunter. Kelly is a passionate leader following God’s call on her life to minister to students and edify families. Kelly is currently obtaining a Masters of Divinity from Abilene Christian University. Find her blogging at brophytwinspeak.com about faith, family, and fashion. [Image]
The silence that surrounds me is deafening as I lie on the living room couch. Like a black hole in the universe, the silence is vast and deep. Just as I lean over the edge, about to tip over and fall into it, something jolts me back to reality. It’s the slow quiet ticking of the clock. What? The clock must lie. Its hands say 7:00 p.m. So why I am so tired?
I scan through the events of my day: delivering a sermon to 200 high school students, discussing my work with my boss, shopping for groceries, meeting with the pre-school principal about my son’s bad behavior, preparing dinner, working out, bathing the kiddos, nursing the little one, and then tucking my tots into bed.
And now, the crash. Exhaustion is my sole companion as I lie here on the couch. I lie because it requires too much energy to sit. Energy that I don’t have. Energy that was expended hours ago.
As I lie here, I remember being pregnant with my first son. I had been in full-time ministry for eight years, and our family was about to change. And everyone had something to say about this change. About 99% of my conversations with members from my church went something like this:
Church Member: So, after the baby comes, you’re going to quit working, right?
Me: Um (confused by the question), not planning on it. I will take some time off and then be back at work as usual.
Church Member: (with a patronizing look) Well, when you have kids, everything changes. You don’t have to decide anything right now. Just wait and see.
And now, lying on the couch, with the black hole of silence and time’s gaze upon me, these conversations replay themselves in my mind.
So I take a breath and say the words aloud,
Then I ask myself this question: Must everything change?
Does God’s call on my life change because I am a mother? Does He lessen his expectation that I edify the church because I am a mother? Do my gifts to lead, preach, teach and pastor the flock in my care suddenly go inactive because I am a mother?
Must everything change once we moms in ministry trade in our tank tops for nursing bras and high heels for flats? One certain change is that mamas in ministry (or at least the few that I know) begin to do battle with myths that were perhaps previously irrelevant.
The motherhood myth that says somehow having a child trumps any previous calling, anointing, or occupation.
The ministry myth that says somehow the minister’s family ends up bitter and neglected.
The myth that ministry and motherhood engage in a battle, weighing heavily against one another on a giant balance scale. On one side of the scale is ministry, and on the other side is motherhood.
The problem with this image of an ever-tilting balance scale is that it is an illusion. Like a 3D film, it seems real, but when you reach out to touch it, it vanishes.
Balance is not real. And it cannot be achieved.
So I am walking out on that 3D story. I don’t want my money back, and I don’t want a voucher. I want a different story.
This is Her Story.
This is my friend, Amy Bost Henegar. She is preaching at the Manhattan Church of Christ. While holding baby Emma. She is not in some mythical battle to balance motherhood and ministry. No, she is embracing the head-on collision between the two.
This is My Story.
My story is preaching while wearing a baby because, as Amy says, a mama knows never to wake a sleeping baby.
My story is cutting a parent meeting short to run out and pump.
My story involves wearing a tunic top on stage that’s long enough to conceal post-partum thighs, with my baby’s spit up on the collar and a scarf to conceal the breast milk that has leaked in just the right places.
My story is writing sermons at 3:00 a.m. because that is when the house is quiet and the soul can listen.
My story is a daily head-on collision between motherhood and ministry. But what I realize, as I lie exhausted on the couch, is that the collision is not violent. It is the soft colliding of two realities into one. It is more like a marriage, a holy union of two beings sown in completely different worlds yet now merged as one. One flesh.
Like two lovers, they bring out the best in each other, they inform and strengthen each other.
The truth is that being a mother makes me a more equipped minister, and being a minister makes me a more equipped mother.
As a mother holds her newborn baby, I hold the call to ministry and the reality of motherhood both tenderly before God.
So I’m giving up on balance. I’m putting the balance scale out with the evening trash. Not reduced, reused or recycled. Just thrown away.
O Lord, I ask not to be delivered from the tensions that wind me tight, but I do ask for a sense of direction in which to move once wound, a sense of humor about my disappointments, a sense of respect for the elegant puzzlement of being human, and a sense of gladness for your kingdom which comes in spite of my fretful pulling and tugging.
Ted Loeder. Guerillas of Grace (97)